It’s summertime. The sun is shining, the air is warm and inviting, and your kids have all the free time in the world to do whatever they’d like. Most of us remember summer as an opportunity to swim, jump rope, play ball and fall into bed exhausted but happy. So why does it seem kids these days want to do nothing but play video games and watch TV?
Summer offers a welcome break from the structured schedule of the school year, so it’s understandable that they’d enjoy the chance to sleep in and do nothing sometimes. However, pediatricians, educators and other experts agree that kids lead far too sedentary lives during their break. Try these tips to keep your kids off the couch and on their feet this summer.
Keep Sports Equipment Handy
It’s easier to get kids to become more active if they have sports gear and toys on hand. Having access to hula hoops, soccer balls, a basketball hoop, a jump rope, racquets and other athletic equipment encourages children to play outside when the mood strikes.
Physical Activity Guidelines
According to the Centers for Disease Control, children need at least 60 minutes each of aerobic activity, bone strengthening and muscle strengthening exercise three times a week. Brisk walking, hiking, skateboarding and rollerblading are great examples of moderate exercise to incorporate into your kids’ routines.
More vigorous forms of activity include martial arts, rope-jumping, riding bikes, and “tag” and other games involving running and chasing. Sports like tennis, swimming, basketball, soccer and ice or field hockey also fall under this intensity level.
A good game of tug-of-war is excellent for muscle strengthening, as are rope or tree climbing and swinging on playground equipment. Your kids’ muscle development will also get a boost from resistance bands, sit-ups of either the curl-up or crunch variety, and modified push-ups with knees placed on the floor.
Finally, growing bones can benefit from jumping rope, gymnastics, jumping, running, hopping and skipping, as well as a broad range of games including hopscotch, basketball, volleyball and tennis.
Exercise as a Family
Inviting the children to get active as a family is a great way to keep everyone in shape and bond at the same time. Walking the dog is a perfect activity to work into the family’s daily schedule. It teaches kids responsibility, keeps them moving and even ensures Fido’s optimum fitness.
Playing basketball or catch offers a fun-filled way to spend quality time as a family while staying active. Other benefits include a healthy dose of fresh air and time spent soaking up a bit of sun.
If your young ones don’t have access to a yard or other safe place to play, consider enrolling them in day camp. They’ll have a great time staying active and socializing — another benefit they’ll miss out on by sitting at home. Many community groups offer low-cost or even free day camps.
Jill Burbank is a blogger who has a love for children and physical fitness. She guest blogs for a variety of online publications. Follow Jill @JillBurbank2.